PLAYBILL VAULT'S Today In Theatre History: JANUARY 8

By David Gewirtzman
and Roebrt Viagas, Christopher Reichheld and Anne Bradley
January 8, 2014

1900 Blanche Bates, who will go on to play Cho-Cho San in Madame Butterfly, now stars in David Belasco's Naughty Anthony. Oliver Redpath co-stars in this comedy at the Herald Square Theatre.



1906 Thomas Dixon's drama The Clansman opens on Broadway, painting a sympathetic picture of the aims of the Ku Klux Klan. The drama runs 51 performances, ironically at the Liberty Theatre. It is later adapted to film by D.W. Griffith as the classic Birth of a Nation.

1911 Louise sings "I wonder how old I am?" in Gypsy, and here's the answer: Born today in Seattle is Rose Louise Hovick, later to become better known as stripper supreme Gypsy Rose Lee (1911-1970). She will appear on Broadway in Star and Garter, Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 and other shows, and her life will inspire the musical #Gypsy.

1912 Jose Ferrer (1912-1992) is born today in Puerto Rico. He played many roles and directed many shows on Broadway, but remains best known for his 1946 Cyrano de Bergerac.

1913 A Good Little Devil adapted by Austin Strong from the French version by Rosemonde Gerard and Maurice Rostand, plays at the Republic Theatre for 131 performances. Mary Pickford and Lillian Gish are in the ensemble.

1928 Future lighting designer Tharon Musser is born in Roanoke, Virginia. Musser's work will accent Shinbone Alley and The Birthday Party, among others.

1959 It's Eighty in the Shade at London's Globe Theatre. Sybil Thorndike stars in this Clemence Dane drama, directed by Lionel Harris.

1981 Wilford Leach's hilarious and original staging of The Pirates of Penzance moves to Broadway following a hit summer run at the Delacorte Theatre. Starring Kevin Kline, Linda Ronstadt, George Rose, Rex Smith, Estelle Parsons and Tony Azito, the production runs 787 performances, a Broadway record for Gilbert and Sullivan.

1989 42nd Street, one of the longest-running shows in Broadway history, closes tonight after 3,486 performances — the longest run ever for producer David Merrick. The musical featuring music by Harry Warren and Al Dubin opened in 1980 at was awarded the Tony Award for Best Musical. The popular show will be revived in 2001 in a generally well-received production featuring Christine Ebersole, Kate Levering, Mary Testa, and Michael Cumpsty.

2005 A BBC broadcast of the adult-themed Jerry Springer: The Opera draws 45,000 complaints — but also a respectable 1.8 Million TV viewers in Great Britain.

2006 A Tony-nominated Fiddler on the Roof revival closes today. At the farewell party Rosie O'Donnell (Golde) helps co-star Harvey Fierstein (Tevye) shave off the beard he grew for the role.

2007 Yvonne De Carlo, 84, the sultry actress who starred in "The Ten Commandments" and "The Munsters" and played Carlotta in the original production of #Follies, dies of natural causes in suburban Los Angeles.

2012 Elton John and Lee Hall's 2009 Tony Award-winning Best Musical, Billy Elliot, closes on Broadway after 1,304 performances. The four young actors who rotate in the title role each play a section of the final performance. At the curtain call, they are joined by the original three Tony-winning Billy Elliots (David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, Kiril Kulish) as well as several other past Broadway Billys.

More of Today's Birthdays: Jose Ferrer 1912. Stanley Prager 1917. Larry Storch 1923. Giorgio Tozzi 1923. Soupy Sales 1926. Elvis Presley 1935. Graham Chapman 1941. David Bowie 1947.